Bomb scares can be scary. But the reasons behind some of them are simply mind-boggling. Take what happened at the Mumbai airport on Sunday for instance. A man was arrested and there was a bomb scare because of a phone call – a call where he asked the operator about his delayed BOM-DEL flight.
Yes. BOM-DEL. Bombay. Bomb hai (in Hindi). All same apparently.
Here’s what happened: A Bombay-Delhi flight that Vinod Moorjani, an Indian-origin US-based CEO of an IT firm was supposed to take, was delayed because of the cold and fog. He was supposed to take another flight from Delhi to Rome en route Virginia with his wife and children.
Irked by the delay, the 45-year-old called the toll-free number of Mumbai International Airport around 2.30pm.
Now, there are two versions of what happened next.
According to version one, Vinod asked about the status of his flight by referring to it as ‘BOM-DEL status’. BOM-DEL is the abbreviation used to refer to the Mumbai-Delhi flight. He made the call from a booth at the airport at 2.30pm, CCTV footage showed.
According to version two, which is the operator’s version, Vinod was asked to clarify his question, when he hung up. The operator heard ‘bomb hai’ (there’s a bomb) before Vinod hurriedly hung up, which put her on alert.
As a result, at 4.30pm, Vinod and his family were made to disembark from their Delhi-bound flight and Vinod was arrested at 6.30pm.
The police told the Andheri metropolitan court, where Vinod was produced on Monday, that Vinod made a hoax call about a bomb so that he could catch his late-night flight to Rome from Delhi in case his flight landed late in Delhi.
But Vinod’s lawyer maintained that he had merely made the call to enquire about his flight status and the operator misunderstood him.
While Vinod was released on posting a bail of Rs 15,000, he has been booked under IPC sections 505 (1) (b) for intent to cause fear or alarm to the public and 506 (II) for criminal intimidation.
This isn’t the first time that using an abbreviation for Mumbai (BOM) has caused a bomb scare. In 2016, a man was detained and a flight delayed by three and a half hours after a torn boarding pass with ‘bomb’ written on it was found in a seat on the flight.
According to the man whose seat it was, it was a mix-up caused by wrong placement of the letter B. Subramaniam told the police that he had asked his agent about the boarding gate for the flight at the check-in counter. The gate was 47B, and the letter ‘B’ was scribbled next to ‘BOM’ on the boarding pass, making it spell ‘bomb’.